Noah Webster's Spellings

Noah Webster was struck by the inconsistencies of English spelling and the obstacles it presented to learners (young and old alike) and resented that American classrooms were filled only with British textbooks. The spelling reform featured in his first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, was based on the author’s combined vision of logic and aesthetics. He changed the –ce in words like defence, offence, and pretence to –se; abandoned the second, silent "l" in verbs such as travel and cancel when forming the past tense; dropped the "u" from words such as humour and colour; and dropped the "k" from words such as publick and musick. The "publick" readily accepted many of these changes and just as readily rejected some of the others.

Suggestions that were successful

Suggestions that didn't catch on

before Webster --

what Webster wanted --

before Webster --

what Webster wanted, but didn't get --

gaol jail ache ake
mould mold soup soop
travelled traveled sleigh sley
honour honor sponge spunge
centre center tongue tung
humour humor cloak cloke
masque mask determine determin
publick public women wimmen